Tuesday, December 30, 2014

No 2015 New Year Resolutions

This year I will skip making New Year resolutions.
It's a great idea. Every year, before leaping into the next, you make a list of the things you want to achieve, those within your capacity, and devote some time in the coming year to achieving them. Sometimes you may get carried away and make unrealistic resolutions.

Your new year's resolution can be your own personal secret. A vice or bad habit that you have finally decided to let go; to cut down on booze, to quit smoking,  to get off Facebook. Sometimes it is a secret effort to get a promotion you have been eyeing for a long time. It can be your own personal secret Agenda for Prosperity.

Your new year's resolution can be shared with friends. A desire to lose 15 pounds before the end of the year, a desire to lose the beer gut and replace it with well toned magazine like abdominal muscles that will be the envy of your ageing friends. It could be a promise to finally start tackling the mountain of credit card debt that has prevented you from being approved for even a pin, let alone a car.

Some people really do stick to their new year resolutions, a few. Many try hard for the first two weeks in the year, but old habits die hard. By the third week things always come up just as they are ready to go to the gym. By the sixth week, they are already planning another new year's resolution for the next year. The current year's resolution a broken dream. A mountain that was just too steep to climb.

The people who benefit a lot from New Year’s resolutions are the gym owners. That is the time they hire one or two more personal trainers, to push the ambitious 400 pound fellow who envisions himself another Tyrese Gibson by the end of the year, but still drives to the all you can eat Chinese buffet as soon as he steps out of the gym. The personal trainer will take one look at him and think "Meh, it's not going to happen," but he won't say it loud. He won't want to lose a customer.

Personal Trainers are effective salesmen for unrealistic dreams. They will take one look at you and know that there is no way on earth you will lose that weight even if you are given two years.  But they will still edge you on, pushing you for the next two months, watching you huff and puff as if your life depended on it. They will do so gently at first. When you have used up all your nonrefundable fees,  they will then work you over as if they were breaking in a horse.  You start loving them, you end up hating them, and finally you quit.

Sometimes your New Year's resolution is to pay down your credit card debts. Initially you decide to make a huge sacrifice and make huge biweekly payments. Soon you bring your card payment way down and you feel great about it. But the guys at Visa and Mastercard are as determined as you are to pull you in the opposite direction. Their job is to keep you in debt and they are good at it. Without debt they will go out of business, as simple as that.

So when you have just fifty dollars left on your five hundred dollars credit card and have left it that way for three months, you receive the inevitable letter thanking you for being such a loyal customer and jerking up your 500 hundred dollar credit limit to two thousand dollars. Suddenly you can now buy that curved 4K 65 inch  Samsung TV that is on sale at Best Buy. You rush over there and they throw in free shipping with the bargain. You are now four times more in debt than when you made the new year's resolution. Who is the sucker now?

No, this year, I won't make any new year's resolution. I have looked at the things in my life that are worth changing and will work on them without any fanfare or promises. If I succeed it's fine, if I don't I tried. From now on it is going to be continuous resolutions, dictated more by circumstances and less by Santa Claus.

The only thing I ask for in this new year is for this dreadful Ebola to go away from Sierra Leone and West Africa.

This week our President in Sierra Leone declared seven days of fasting. When your President becomes your pastor, be rest assured that you are in deep trouble. In our areas of rural Sierra Leone, you don't have to even declare fasting. Most families having been under quarantine for the better part of 7 months hardly having any food to eat. So asking them to fast is just formalizing their already miserable situation. I just hope the President will not send soldiers into homes for fast enforcement. One never knows what is going through the mind of Koroma these days.

The only good news coming out of Sierra Leone is that the number of new Ebola cases has gone down drastically. The shock of the disease finally got to our people and they are no longer seeing it as a conspiracy, thankfully. Many are now taking appropriate precautions. We urge the international community to not let down on this virus until the last case is reported. Ebola is a wake up call to the world that we are now so interconnected that we just cannot turn away from the plight of others any longer.

So while we wait, pray, hope and take appropriate precautions,  this year I will skip the resolutions.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Goat that did not Eat the Potato Leaves

It was a hot day in Segbwema. The sun's heat radiated in visible waves off the old asphalt. Most of the grass was dead, a crumpled mess, disintegrating into fine dust.

It was the end of the dry season and even the town's major stream, the river Nyeya, a tributary of the great Maleh river was drying up, the brown water down to the base of the stream bed, flowing sluggishly like a lazy python that had just swallowed a prized catch, meandering over the ancient rocks that formed the foundation on which the bridge dividing Segbwema into Taiama and Kono town was built.

The primary school pupils no longer went to MM Kallon after school to swim. MM Kallon,  the deepest part of of the river Nyeya was dry, and the hard rocks were visible on the river's bed. There was no place to swim.

Kinie Sipo Kpandeyengay was looking for his old Goat. He was not originally from Segbwema. Some said he was from Blama, a small dusty town off the main Bo-Kenema highway. It was said that in Blama, the small small boys had very little respect for their elders. In Blama, it was rumored, even the cockroaches were so proud that the sparrows lived in awe of them. The cockroaches in Blama were prouder than the birds.

Others said Kinie Sipo came from Nyandehun Mababway, a small village in Kailahan of people who thought they were the most educated.  In Nyandehun, even the primary school pupils thought they were the most educated in the world. The only book that was compulsory in Class 7, was the Oxford English Dictionary. Any pupil finishing class 7 who had not memorized all the words in the Oxford dictionary up to letter Q, was disowned by the town's inhabitants for bringing shame and disrepute upon them. This was not even Giehun Luawa.

Still, some other people said that Kinie Sipo came from Bo town, that sprawling southern metropolis where the great Bo School was located. Where Jesus Christ told the Catholic fathers to build his college. Where the great engineers from the south first learnt to do integration and differentiation.
Important people came from Bo, ambitious people, honorable people. Almost everybody who grew up in Bo was a chief. There were so many chiefs in Bo that even the town crier and town drummer were chiefs. The rest wanted to be Presidents. Since Independence,  in every multiparty election in Sierra Leone, there would be a candidate who was either from Bo or went to school in Bo. It just had to happen.

The oldest woman in Bo said it was the water that ran under the town. Whoever drank from Bo's water wells would feel important until the day they died, even those who were just smart, but not very clever. The old woman was right. In Bo, even the poor people were important.  Bo has the greatest number of important poor people in all of Sierra Leone. They were good people,  fine people, and their daughters were beautiful.

The old goat did not care where Kinie Sipo came from, it was a goat,  and did not care about such things. All the goat cared about was grass. But this year the rains had been late to come and the grass had all dried up in Segbwema. The orange pills strewn carelessly on the streets were so hard and tough that it was better to chew on paper.

Kinie Sipo's goat was an old animal, it did not have the teeth to chew anything strong. But it was also a wise goat, and stayed away from plastic. Plastic was soft, but it had killed many sheep, in and around Segbwema.

While Kinie Sipo looked for his goat, the old goat was running towards Holy Ghost, the Catholic secondary school near  the old railroad to Kenema. The goat had smelt some fresh, succulent, mouthwatering potato leaves. The smell drifted slowly the air from the direction of Principal Ngombu's house. The goat was a wise goat. It had seen principal Ngombu's old Volkswagen drive by. It would never forget that Volkswagen, the vehicle had almost killed the old goat two weeks ago. Now, whenever it heard the loud sound of the trusty old engine,  it ran like there was no tomorrow. Whoever said goats could not run, has never been to Segbwema. Kinie Sipo's goat was old, but it could still run.

The goat came to the garden plot containing the fresh, succulent, mouthwatering potato leaves. The leaves stretched for as long as the eyes could see. Alas, there was a fence surrounding the potato leaves all around the garden plot. The goat ran along the length of the potato plot, but the fence was all around. There was not even a single opening to squeeze in. The old goat hated these Holy Ghost students. How could they do this, build a fence and not leave even one tiny hole?

The old goat tried to jump the fence. On the first try, it went up halfway. It became convinced it could do it. On the second try it fell so hard that it's stomach sounded like a loud drum on the tough concrete. But it would not give up. It rested for three minutes, goat time, and decided to try again.

This time it went  backwards a considerable distance and the came forward with full speed before it made the leap. The old goat almost cleared the fence, but it was just an inch too high and the goat fell all the way down. Unfortunately this time, it landed on its testicles. The pain was so intense that tears streamed down the sides of the goat's face. It was a marvel, seeing a goat cry. But nobody saw the goat cry, nobody was around.

The goat limped back home, hungrier than ever.

"Maybe," the goat thought, " those potato leaves were just fresh, but were not even sweet."

"Maybe," the goat continued to think, "not only were they not sweet,  they could have even been poisonous. They must be poisonous,  otherwise why did they have to build a fence so high? I am lucky I did not even eat those potato leaves. They surely were poisonous."

Kinie Sipo's old goat limped home, the pain in its testicles still intense. It was still very hungry, but also very happy that it did not eat those poisonous potato leaves that grew on the fenced garden plot in Holy Ghost.

By the time the goat got home,  it was sure that it had made the right decision. Thank God it had not eaten those potato leaves. It would surely have been dead by now!

Sheku Sheriff -An adaptation of an old tale.

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